Heat-Related Illnesses 101

It’s no secret that the southern summer heat can leave everyone, especially kiddos, feeling exhausted and even dehydrated at times. Not only is dehydration a red flag in children, but it can be the start of other heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.

When it comes to beating the heat, it all starts with knowing the signs and symptoms of the key heat-related illnesses along with helpful tips to implement should the warning signs begin to present themselves, and Urgent Care for Children is here to teach you all you need to know.

Mild to moderate dehydration:

  • Less frequent urination (for infants, fewer than six wet diapers a day)
  • Sunken soft spots of the head in an infant or toddler
  • Parched, dry mouth
  • Less playful than usual

What to do: Follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guide to treating dehydration with an electrolyte solution in addition to providing symptomatic care. Some cases may require medical attention.

Severe dehydration:

  • Excessively sleepy and fussy
  • Sunken and darkened eyes
  • Cool, discolored hands and feet
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Urinates only one to two times per day

What to do: Turn to Urgent Care for Children or your nearest emergency department for intravenous rehydration.

Heat cramps:

  • Brief, painful muscle cramps
  • Typically, in the legs, arms, or belly
  • Caused by a low level of salts and fluids, often due to intense physical activity

What to do: Have your child rest and rehydrate with fluids such as water or sports drinks that contain salt and sugar.

Heat exhaustion:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Headache
  • Clammy skin
  • Increased thirst
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Raised body temperature (but less than 104°F)

What to do: Remove your child’s excess clothing, bring them into the air conditioning, and provide water or a drink containing electrolytes. In some cases, you may need to contact your child’s pediatrician or turn to Urgent Care for Children in the after-hours.


  • Patient’s temperature exceeds 104°F
  • Considered the most severe form of heat illness
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Seizure
  • Hot, dry, and flushed skin
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hallucinations

What to do: Call for emergency medical help. While waiting for help to arrive, move your child to the air conditioning or into the shade, and sponge him or her in cool water.

Turning to preventative measures such as keeping your child hydrated, dressed in light clothing, and planning extra time for rest, are the best way to ensure that your kiddo does not fall victim to a heat-related illness. In the event that your child does experience a mild to moderate heat-related illness, remember Urgent Care for Children is just a short drive or telemedicine visit away. Our team is proud to offer pediatric care all 365 days of the year, for any sickness, and any reason!